Facebook: Man Spared Jail Over Comments

A man convicted of posting a grossly offensive Facebook message following the deaths of six British troops has been given a community order.

Azhar Ahmed's remarks included "all soldiers should DIE and go to HELL" - and his comments were described as "derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory" by a judge.

Ahmed, 20, admitted posting the message two days after the deaths of the troops in Afghanistan in March - but told a trial at Huddersfield Magistrates' Court he did not think it was offensive.

He said he had no idea his comments would cause so much upset, and that he was only trying to point out that other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored.

Reacting to the public outcry over the soldiers' deaths in March this year, he wrote on the social networking website: "What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed."

His rant went on: "All soldiers should DIE and go to HELL", before ending with "Gotta problem go cry at your soldiers grave & wish him hell because that's where he is going."

Ahmed acknowledged his comments were unacceptable, but denied they were grossly offensive.

He was found guilty last month of sending a grossly offensive communication and has been given a two-year community order.

District Judge Jane Goodwin told Ahmed his posting was "derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory."

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was killed alongside Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

The trial heard the parents of one of the six soldiers who died in the incident saw the posting, which was copied around the internet.

Judge Goodwin said the law was not there to stop legitimate political opinions being strongly voiced.

But she said the test was whether what was written was "beyond the pale of what's tolerable in our society".

She ruled Ahmed's posting cleared this hurdle and said "I'm satisfied that the message was grossly offensive".